FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is Resolving Poverty?

2. How did Resolving Poverty come about?

3. What is Resolving Poverty's mission, vision, aims, and goals?

4. Why is it "resolving poverty" - why not "resolving homelessness", since that seems to be the objective?


5. Was profit motive always in the plans?

6. How will profits be distributed?

7. To play devil's advocate for a moment, why should others care about alleviating homelessness and poverty?

8. What's your response to claims that helping the poor afflicts them, by positively reinforcing their dependence upon charity and free-handouts?

9. How would you like Resolving Poverty to be utilized?

10. What have you learned most working with those facing homelessness and poverty?

1. What is Resolving Poverty?

My name is Suleiman, the founder of Resolving Poverty. Having experienced homelessness for brief moments in Texas and Virginia, I became inspired to lend a helping hand to those facing a predicament I myself never imagined finding myself in. This led to me volunteering at a local day-shelter in my city of Charlottesville called The Haven [8]. My journey thus then inspired me to create Resolving Poverty.

Resolving Poverty is a mission based for-profit company dedicated to granting 100% of its net income to fund Housing First programs dedicated to assisting those experiencing homelessness. It's purpose is to educate the world about the causes, consequences, and solutions to homelessness based on the most up-to-date research and data published, all of which is brought forth by means of fashion activism as its vehicle [1].

Resolving Poverty: Compassion For Others Translating Into Action For Change

Making profit is one of the keys to getting folks out of homelessness and into housing. And funding is a crucial part to that process. I've  created Resolving Poverty as a social business structure with it's essential purpose being to sell merchandise apparel and then donate the profits to organizations focused on housing those in homelessness.

Profits go to US-based organizations listed on Charity Navigator with proven track records of eliminating homelessness.


2. How did Resolving Poverty come about?

I first began researching about homelessness after experiencing minor instances of sleeping in my car between the years of 2014 to 2019. During my last experience, in 2019, as a means to get up from underneath myself, I decided to volunteer at The Haven upon finding the organization through a Google search. While volunteering, I soon became curious and interested in the topic which led to questions and thus then multiple resources online I came across for answers, most notably, some 90+ TedX conference presentations on the subject at large.

Inspired to share this wealth of information, and pleasantly surprised about there being a consistent message and proven solution to homelessness, I organized and published much of the information to share with others. This, plus the want for t-shirts by guests at The Haven led to the idea of having a logo created for placement on shirts, and given to guests upon requests for clothing.

I envisioned any and everyone wearing a t-shirt with the logo as a potential advocate for spreading the word and message about the misunderstandings the public at large has about those facing homelessness, and what the facts, data, and research shows as actually being true. Homeless individuals themselves, wearing the apparel, indirectly become advocates at the point by which the general public will see the logo and take it upon themselves to visit the site, encouraging an opportunity for them to educate themselves further about the steps toward resolving homelessness and all that is entailed from data and research driven viewpoints entailing primary & secondary source-related research. 

To learn more about the inception of Resolving Poverty click here.

3. What is Resolving Poverty's mission, vision, aims, and goals?

The mission of Resolving Poverty, first and foremost, is to educate the public at large. To create awareness. If then folks are spurred to support by purchasing an apparel piece, or through communal activism of some sort, including by election voting -- these are effective ways any and everyone can contribute to the cause, however passionate and inspired they are inclined to. Initially, the website was not meant to represent a clothing brand but rather was meant to be an information database. The brand came into fruition through my noticing the need for t-shirts at The Haven on occasion, as well as the dire need for funding to support Housing First approaches in alleviating homelessness, through the generation of cash flow to house those at risk or already experiencing homelessness.

Mission

Resolving Poverty ensures public education and options for active engagement at the community level via a search console (database) we plan to implement onto the site. To give a brief idea, with ten thousand (10,000) apparel pieces sold, this equates to approximately $90,000 in revenue profit. Respectively speaking, it costs on average about $1,500 to keep an individual housed, thus then equating to about 60+ potential folks being assisted. During other times, folks living under dire circumstances require only about $800 to $1200 to maintain their housing, saving them then from becoming homeless.


Maintaining folks from becoming homeless is monumental, but equally important is taking people out of homelessness and giving them housing. Government programs and grants along with independent funders play a crucial role in helping to keep folks out of homelessness, and Resolving Poverty seeks such same role through the holistic approach of branding the description and solutions to the scenarios surrounding this issue, at large.

Vision

Resolving Poverty's vision is to eliminate homelessness in Charlottesville and other U.S. cities by means of housing those in homelessness. This is made possible by the selling of merchandise and using the profits to generate payment toward funds for getting folks housed; who becomes housed is typically based upon vulnerability index variables.


The responsibility for Resolving Poverty to contribute to effective steps and processes toward resolving homelessness is a key goal. It is not enough to just give "money to the poor". Rather, what is essential is the evaluation of programs enabling folks facing homelessness to then become stably housed. Therefore, funds generated by Resolving Poverty, as a social business, are to be distributed wisely and effectively. I invite any and every one to hold to account the progress and improvements and results we garner as a company in accomplishing our mission.


Goals

Resolving Poverty's goals include spreading, growing, and evolving the brand and company to various markets and on various platforms with the goal of contributing to the continuous effort of resolving homelessness while maintaining the integrity, effectiveness, and optimization of the company's operations and contributions.


This, while bridging gaps currently faced at social and political levels between the various areas that impact or compromise folks from finding stable affordable housing is another extension of Resolving Poverty's functionality and purpose. Ultimately, Resolving Poverty has been created to address the challenge of homelessness; to address the societal need of affordable housing for those living in poverty.



4. Why is it "resolving poverty" - why not "resolving homelessness", since that seems to be the objective?

Poverty I think is a systemic issue and also a mind-state in part stemming from social constructs, or lack thereof. Homelessness is based upon one falling through the cracks of society, much of which is the result of poverty, and some of which is due to a lack of safety-nets. Poverty is systemic, homelessness is personal. If one can resolve the systemic infrastructure of poverty, then homelessness has less chance of happening. Homelessness is possible because poverty itself is present, albeit not everybody who becomes homeless comes from conditions of poverty, fundamentally speaking.

Homelessness can essentially be broken down into four categories: chronic, episodic, transitional, and hidden. (source)

The question between poverty and homelessness is an interesting one. Why the brand and website is “resolving poverty“ rather than “resolving homelessness” is because resolving homelessness is a much more realistic and tangible short-term goal to have. Working to resolve homelessness is digestible and realistic, and a prerequisite to resolving poverty at large. In such ways, resolving poverty comes about first and foremost by understanding why homelessness exists to begin with, as broadly linked and associated with “poverty” at large. It is those living in poverty who are most vulnerable to experiencing homelessness; the poor and disenfranchised, as opposed to transient occurrences based on chance, bad luck, or off-occurrences which most capably afflict those in poverty as well as a mixture of middle and at times upper-class folks who may have had a string of ill circumstantial occurrences or otherwise. 


To take one step toward resolving homelessness is to look into the depth and impacts of poverty by default because much of everything associated with homelessness also reflects instances of conditions in society that can be attributed to what we would define and relate to as “poverty”. To first take small steps toward resolving homelessness inevitable leads to root-cause awareness and changes calling into account the conditions which enable poverty, vaguely speaking. And through resolving homelessness, the fine tuning of understanding, becoming aware of, and breaking down what it means to have poverty in society and what it means to live in poverty, and the multitudes of factors and variables that contribute to such existence of injustices and systemic workings - much of this is brought to light indirectly and by default, thereby empowering one to view poverty from a more constructive and critical viewpoint based on actual real life information and knowledge in how it links with and results into homelessness.


It all starts with having a roof over your head - that being the "Housing First" approach. And thus, Resolving Poverty is really about resolving the condition of homelessness, which then enables one to exercise their right to create abundance for themselves, thus the "resolution" of (poverty). Ultimately, resolving homelessness is really more of a direct solution. Broadly speaking and with more funding becoming available, the process of resolving poverty serves as a great challenge but also a more apt solution to resolving homelessness, and that extends to then decreasing the amount of homelessness actually occurring at the root level. Thereby, fixing the system through means of education and jobs and other resources really elevates quality of life, and resolving poverty becomes more than just a "Housing First" based directive, but expands and evolves into something far more optimally efficient in combating pervading ills. To fix the root of an issue is to do much justice to the characteristics that sprout from such underlying conditions initially - and that's an ultimate challenge and an ultimate goal I think worth undertaking at some point in time down the line whence the resources align and the time presents itself.


5. Was profit motive always in the plans?

The lack of affordable housing in conjunction with the lack of profit in such real estate formulations, as well as a lack in funding seem to be two of the main obstacles faced when dealing with homelessness. Non-profit organizations do great work in assisting and supporting folks in need and on their way to becoming housed, however what inspired me most was the formulation of a for-profit entity dedicated toward the purpose of ending homelessness proactively, without dependence on outside institutions or generous donors, under the "social business" model conceptualized and refined by Muhammad Yunus among others.

My original thought with Resolving Poverty was to break-even, utilizing the apparel as the only means to spread the message of resolving homelessness through a one-for-one business model where for each piece sold another is donated to clothe a person in need. I then considered profit-motive after it was suggested with the sole purpose of all profits being granted toward an organization(s) working with those currently homeless. My thought process from wanting to first donate 50% to then 90% and finally to 100% was ultimately inspired by the examples and knowledge I garnered from reading over a dozen books on the topic of 'poverty', 'social business', and related concepts.


Resolving Poverty is committed to quality, creativity, and social responsibility. To make money for the sole benefit of doing good for communities is the ultimate objective. Such autonomy and self-reliance I believe brings empowerment and purpose to not only the company but to many others inspired by such ideas. Oft times, companies in business for profit are meant to devote themselves to calculating how to turn ideas, people, and material resources into financial gain. That's not to say they won't do some good in the process. Most businesses, however, do not INTEND to do good; it isn't in their primary goal.


Resolving Poverty serves as a model through which the distribution of wealth at large bridges the gap between the haves and the have-nots, ensuring that money is not only giving the giver something tangible in return (i.e. the merchandise purchased) but is also serving as an opportunity for funneling their charitable-capital in support of a constructive and solvable cause, with proven track results and indirectly creating a safer and more just world at large - being that of housing those without a place to call home.


Money is not in short supply. People live in an ocean of money. Only poor people cannot get a sip of it. The world has created a series of bubbles filled with people who ignore what is happening in the lower bubbles. The uppermost bubble is the one where all the wealth is concentrated, while the lowest bubble has the most people and the least wealth. Over time, the uppermost bubble has fewer and fewer people with more and more wealth, making the wealth monopoly more and more extreme. — Muhammad Yunus

6. How will profits be distributed?

DISTRIBUTION OF REVENUE
1. Cover costs (100% profits incurred until total current costs are recouped (approximately $4k as of 11/2020).
2. Donate 100% of net-income to high-efficiency rated Housing First program(s).

The means by which revenue will be streamlined is as follows:
[1] break-even point (costs recouped)
[2] expenses covered (employee wages paid)
[3] and 100% of what remains granted to tried-and-true Housing First programs.

*Transparency is important. Revenue data, impact statistics, & evaluations are due to be made public at the end of each year.


What's the best way to be a part of the solution, and honestly? The best way is to give money to the issue. We need resources. We need financial resources to pay for housing services, which end homelessness. We need financial resources to pay case managers that provide the supportive services in housing. That's one of the most powerful ways that you as a community member can be a part of the solution - is doing that and volunteering at these organizations as well, is also fantastic and highly needed []. If you feel compelled, give money to these programs because it really helps. — Anthony Haro, Executive Director Of Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition For The Homeless (source)


7. To play devil's advocate for a moment, why should others care about alleviating homelessness and poverty?

If a solution is available, why would one not be moved to alleviate an issue which deteriorates communities and society at large? The point is that this is a real issue creating real problems afflicting individuals, communities, and the conscience of public life on a daily basis.

There are solutions to this real world problem, and progress for its implementation can be made through continual communication and organization, starting with just one person at a time, leading to communal and regional and finally national increments of progress in snow-ball effect improvements. The solution to homelessness is easily digestible, as proven by data and the research (source). 

With the generating of resources in an incentivized way, whether it be through the purchasing of a product or service from a business constituted as a social business in an industry, or the donating of wealth instituted through the purchasing of a ticket to an event whereby proceeds are distributed effectively, it is my belief that creative ways must and should be implemented to resolve homelessness for the betterment of all. It is the impact of resolving homelessness by means of gathering just a small chunk of change that creates a wealth sum of capital to fix an issue which plagues with drastic repercussions for society and the dignity of our nation and the legacy of its citizens at large.


8. What's your response to claims that helping the poor afflicts them, by positively reinforcing their dependence upon charity and free-handouts?

It is a reasonable dialogue to be had. Undoubtedly, I believe comfort and ease may turn to stagnation under  circumstance and conditions. The effectiveness of the Housing First approach is in the communal support that accompanies such programs. Based on research, what data shows is that assistance can have quite the opposite effect, contributing to productivity and a renewal of life. The Housing First approach extends beyond relief, and encompasses full-on rehabilitation and development of self-reliance and sufficiency, through step-by-step processes, and environment playing a critical role. 

More details can be found on the Key Takeaways web-page, which presents specifics [2]. . The conclusion being: in so long as effectiveness in housing the poor is shown in the data and proven by research, and the opportunity to be of assistance presents itself, Resolving Poverty will dedicate itself toward the cause of housing those whom otherwise would remain unhoused, to the detriment of not only the sufferer but to tax-payer monies and society at large.

Initially, critics feared Utah would lose tons of money by giving the homeless permanent housing, and that doing so would just "incentivize mooching," as (Hasan) Minhaj put it. However, state officials found Housing First actually saving the government money over time, especially as it encourages people to become more self-sufficient sooner. […]
Moreover, Housing First homes are not free: New tenants have to pay $50 or 30% of their income to rent each month (whichever amount is greater). [...]
Between shelters, jail stays, ambulances, and hospital visits, caring for one homeless person typically costs the government $20,000 a year. Providing one homeless person with permanent housing, however — as well as a social worker to help them transition into mainstream society — costs the state $8,000, The New Yorker reported in September. [3]

9. How would you like Resolving Poverty to be utilized?

Resolving Poverty aims to supply the means and ammunition needed to resolve homelessness and poverty at the fundamental, social, political, and philanthropic level. One of the over-arching tenets of Resolving Poverty has been to share through published articles (source) what other cities and districts and entrepreneurs and leaders and community leaders have been able to accomplish to alleviate homelessness. The creative ideas and implementations could very well span across other communities and serve as stepping-stone solutions for implementation, not to mention the creative thoughts and ideas that inevitably come from hearing other ideas! This sharing of research and perspectives formulates a stimulating environment.

 

Over time the mission and vision has evolved and broadened:

  1. to sell apparel to the public.
  2. to clothe those in need.
  3. to generate Housing First program funds (the giving of 100% of net profit).
  4. to enlighten the public on the causes of homelessness [the accompanying institutional injustices: prison system | banking system | education system | housing crises | etc.].
  5. to inform the public about the solution to homelessness (Housing First programs | citizen tax dollars spent most effectively | healthy and safe communities with greater inclusiveness as a positive consequence).
  6. to implement a location-based search module (enabling community engagement and activism propelling awareness and grassroots pro-action at the local, state, and national levels of politics).
  7. to present updates by newly published articles via an RSS news-feed on the site (legislation, data, and research; politically, economically, socially, spiritually).

Search database
Beyond being a clothing brand, implementing a search database where folks can type in their zip code/city with results showcasing 
advocacy groups, organizations, politicians (and more) in respective districts and towns, in favor of the Housing First approach and/or affordable housing. This would be an effective step calling for action toward policy making, lobbying, affordable housing acts, and the cultivation of political agendas, including private and public funding, etc.


RSS Feed

To implement a news tracker on the homepage of the website, where new news on "homelessness", "Housing First", "poverty" is generated, featuring published articles on relevant topics. A feature for keeping the site up-to-date on a real-time daily, weekly, and monthly basis.


Business model

The business model for Resolving Poverty is currently being tested. This section will be updated confirming a finalized model of optimization once tested and implemented; three conceptions currently stand, as presented below.

Three potential business models have been conjured thus far, and are as follows:

  1. one-for-one (with profit-donation granted therein); 
  2. a profit-donation amount granted (without one-for-one implementation); 
  3. or both.


Metrics and numbers relating to cost/profit margin data are being formulated with the intent of a compare-and-contrast delineation set in place, to understand what is most optimally efficient and effective for the company's growth and its underlying mission of housing those facing homelessness through the support of Housing First funding programs.


10. What have you learned most working with those facing homelessness and poverty?

Ultimately, I've received knowledge which has cultivated into ideas, and these ideas have inspired me to act. I have learned that the issue of homelessness is far deeply embedded into the structures of society and human conditioning and individual psychological construction than otherwise. And that a lack of knowledge and education for certain demographics of society are limited and unavailable. That Jim Crow is unfortunately alive and well still, from what I've heard and witness from others in Charlottesville, and most certainly across other towns and cities in the U.S., especially the major ones. I have also learned that everyone, no matter who, needs a helping hand, and most certainly so when lack in infrastructure and institutional deficiency permeates and thus then negatively impacts certain segments of a societal class.

Additionally, I have come to experience the positive win-win impact 'giving' gives to both the receiver and the generous; a fulfillment and satisfaction otherwise unavailable when not exercised. And that my duty as both a citizen of America, and a brother of humanity, and as a believer in a Higher unity, is to be at the least - aware of, and at best, near and of assistance to, and of benefit toward - for the poor. T
hat true servitude rarely if ever comes from serving those with power, but in serving those who can give nothing when you have everything. That such is the highest form of humility and servitude available for any and everyone to take hold of, for their own beneficial well-being in mind, spirit, attitude, and character.

And, lastly, that African Americans and others are owed something, in the same way the Native Americans are owed something, and the Palestinians, and all other oppressed groups, who have been exploited, trampled, enslaved, or oppressed, and upon which others have reaped benefit from under such injustice(s). Such credentialed benefits shall be granted back to where benefit is owed, and accountability needs to be upheld where actions have incurred unjust troubles, through and through, for far too long.

What I have also learned is that homelessness afflicts folks from all backgrounds no matter profession, creed, education, or life experience. And that there is a unique beauty in the diversity of working with a homeless populace and identifying in them the spectrums of one's own connectivity to their abundant life paths in varying ways, as aptly noted by American businessman Tom Chappell:


At Harvard, I soon learned that if I really wanted wisdom, I'd better listen to the powerless. I began to learn something about humility. It's not an easy virtue to learn when you've been to all male schools and worked in large corporations, or if you've been to business school and earned big incomes. But at Harvard, as I sat in class and hung out with women, men, and Asians and Indians and Europeans and homosexuals, I became friends with all sorts of people. I spent my time in class and outside discussing very important philosophical and theological issues, as well as ordinary stuff with people who were different from me. Very different.

I began to sense beauty of it all. The richness and firmness and solidarity of "complex beauty".


Particular disproportions greatly add to general beauty, Edwards wrote in his essay "The Mind". The more complex the beauty, the more apparent its disproportions, the more intense that beauty becomes, the greater its excellency. Edwards realized that such apparent "disproportions", when viewed from higher ground, turn into "complex beauties".


That made perfect BUSINESS sense to me. Up close, all those different skin colors, religious beliefs, cultural traditions, and genders mixed in one place can look pretty chaotic. But you had to see those customers from different perspectives, you had to listen to different points of view. Surely, if I wanted to sell natural toothpaste or deodorant to a diverse population, I would have to have feedback from a diversity of sources. If I wanted to serve my customers and treat them respectfully, then I'd better know something about them.


Like every other company, my managers and I had been inclined to hire in our own image. We were looking for a kind of sameness, the comfort of the familiar. What we had forgotten was that pure, unadulterated iron is not strong enough to build bridges. Only when it is combined with other alloys -- with different metals, "impurities" -- does iron become steel. Sameness, like a dozen red roses, does have its beauty. But complex beauty, Edwards teaches, is more intense. The greater the complexity, the greater the excellency, according to Edwards. The effort to resolve complex differences, recognizing their not-so-obvious relations, standing back and seeing how it all fits together like wild flowers in a field, is to watch apparent discord turn into something that is not only genuinely beautiful but a model of excellency. 


— Tom Chappell, "The Soul of a Business"

 

My work at The Haven has personally had a touching impact upon me, as it was a place I was introduced to at a low-point and has been one which has enabled my connectivity with others all too often ostracized, isolated, or kicked to the curb, under conditions they have faced or been put up against. Lastly, I must recognize management at The Haven who have enabled me opportunities directly and indirectly. The freedom of creativity I have been enabled to express for a cause greater than any one of us has been one of a kind. The Haven was a womb I went to when low in life, and it has in turn served as a foundational base in my moving on-wards. To them, Resolving Poverty is dedicated.


If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones. -John Steinbeck



About
Suleiman was born in Charlottesville, VA. He began volunteering at The Haven in Spring of 2018, and was hired as a supervisor in February, 2019.


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